The UnGlam Fam

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The difficulty of a Difficult Kid.

As far as labels go, V could possibly be classified as a “difficult kid”. The problem with labels is that no one can really compare my difficult with another person’s. I could have the most laid-back, logical, un-insane kid, but if I choose to call him difficult there’s no way to dispute me. There’s a lot of hoo-ha about labeling kids and how it messes with their self esteem — indeed their life! — but this seems to be the problem only with perceived negative labels. After all, I haven’t heard of anybody calling the CPS over labeling someone a fantastic child or a talented little person, and so on.

V knows that he’s picky. He agrees that he has a quick temper that turns him into a mean person. He sometimes even tells me that he realizes when he’s being illogical and argumentative but can’t seem to stop doing it. We are constantly working on that. We have both come to realize his triggers and most times when he’s unable to react to situations in a non-disruptive way, I have learned to diffuse them in various ways.

Yesterday, though, I couldn’t. I yelled at him like I haven’t in a while. I grabbed him by his shoulders too hard. I shoved him. I punched the bed a few times right in front of him because I couldn’t punch him. I got so mad I almost cried. I’d totally lost it. And the worst part was I knew in my mind all along that it wasn’t a behaviour I wanted him to emulate. I was being the exact same person that I wanted him NOT to be. That I’d worked with him all this time for him to be able to control this exact impulse that I could not control in myself. I. just. could. not. stop.

I was where he is so many times a week or month, and even I couldn’t stop myself. He’s 7, and I’m, well, older. I should know better. And I did. But I couldn’t  stop anyway.

If someone called me a difficult person, I could live with it. I could bear it knowing that someone still loves me even if they and I both know I’m difficult. And that’s my lesson from yesterday: V is my difficult kid, but he will be okay as long as he knows I’m always in his corner. My job is not to protect him from what everybody thinks of him — his own behaviour will influence that. My job is to be there for him, labels and all.

PS: I did go and apologize to him before he fell asleep (this all happened at bedtime), but I felt rotten for a long time after. Hopefully the scars will be all mine.

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These are a few of my favorite things…

You guessed right. We’ve been watching the classic movie The Sound of Music in multiple installments the last couple of days. Why installments, you may ask? A valid query, I assure you, but when your kids want to rewind their favorite scenes and watch each one 3 times in succession, a movie can become quite long and unwieldy to be finished in one sitting.

However. It’s one of those things that I can let go without much chagrin except for the niggling annoyance of having a song stuck in my head. Which one? Well, I’ll keep you guessing.

Some of my favorite things:

  • The scent of petrol/gas (I’m weird, I know.)
  • The smell of parched earth after the first rain (anyone who’s grown up in India or in an arid climate knows this heady aroma. I reckon it’s akin to the feeling some get with fresh baked bread; you want to eat whatever smells this yummy — in my case, the earth (in the sense of mud, not the planet.))
  • The smell of a cooler in the summer.

This one needs an explanation: in the days before air conditioning became affordably commonplace in India, we used to cool our houses in the deep days of summer with something called a cooler. Instead of a box to store drinks in, this cooler was typically a rickety aluminium box lined with hay that people would install in a centrally located window and fill with water. It had an exhaust fan that threw the water-cooled air into the house amidst such a hideous racket that holding a conversation in the room with the cooler was almost impossible. (You could yell, however, like you would at a frat party. Not that you would have any energy left for conversation after coming in from 120F temperatures, so this wasn’t usually an issue. The only words to escape your lips at this point were “thank” and “God”.)

A typical cooler of the day. Now probably extinct.

  • Playing Monopoly with my 7yo.

He has recently acquired an obsession with all things monetary. (His first question on encountering an exciting new toy isn’t the usual “Can I have it?” but “How much is it?” Which is fine by me because with the paltry amount he manages to collect from sundry sources, even $5 is enough to deter him.) Monopoly is a game I don’t mind playing with him right now; beats having to wrestle superhero figurines any day. After the first few disasters of having to end the game midway due to uncontrollable sobbing at the loss of $10 for a Chance penalty, he has now learned to stoically bear the vagaries of fortune. I can even get a bit competitive sometimes without causing irreparable damage to his psyche.

  • The comfort of shorn nails.
  • The all-day-long feeling of springiness on days that I’m able to haul my lazy a$$ for a swim. I wish the brain remembered this feeling as acutely as it seems to remember the texture of a double chocolate brownie consumed a week ago. Just sayin’.
  • Bedtime on days that the sheets have been changed.
  • The 2 whole seconds between a sparkling kitchen and the time to start prepping the next meal.

Maybe I’ll think of more of my absolutely favorite things and add to this list. Meanwhile, the one most UNfavorite feeling that comes to mind is of waking up alone at midnight on the wrong side of a urine-soaked bed that is not mine.

What’s yours?

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A week in the life of a toy.

It must be hard being a toy. Having plastic limbs is no walk in the park, plus being created solely for the playing pleasure of another has to be an ego buster. To top it all, the emotional fallout, indeed the roller coaster of being absolutely adored one day only to be resolutely ignored the next must be enough to warrant a hefty bill at  Dr. Oz’s, right?

The typical shelf life for a new toy in our house is about a week. The percentage of plastic in a toy is usually inversely proportional to its shelf life, the same way as more pieces equal less time for them to be played with as a unit. Currently, Lego is the only exception to this plastic and pieces rule.

I will elucidate with an example.

A few weeks ago we were at Target. (I could say The End right now and some of you with overindulged little kids will likely correctly surmise the rest. But for the others, I will explain.) My kids saw a life-sized Superman stuffed toy. They bonded immediately and puppy eyes ensued. The thing wasn’t cheap (in price, not in quality) so I dilly-dallied. I offered alternatives, distractions, tried saying a vehement no. But kids have a super sense about parental dithering and, truth be told, I wasn’t totally averse to the damn thing. I know how much my kids obsess over superheroes and they didn’t really have a superhero stuffie in their toy repertoire. We bought it, amidst whoops of “you’re the best mom ever” and “we promise to share him!”.

Now comes the shelf life part.

Day 1

Superman gets carried everywhere. Hour-long games are created around him. There is no bickering over whose turn it is to hold him since the games are creative enough for everyone to have roles. He eats with them, watches TV with them, sleeps in their bed.

Day 2

Superman is the first thing to be greeted in the morning. More independent play all morning. Slight disturbance about who gets to cuddle with him at naptime but since V is too old to nap, situation is easily diffused. Superman is shown off to neighbour friends.

Day 3

There is no Superman play until late afternoon. Then everyone realizes he exists at the same time and sharing issues begin.

Day 4-5

Interest is on a definite wane. However, bedtime cuddling quotient is still high and staggered bedtimes make sharing a non-issue.

Day 6

Sporadic memory of Superman during daytime hours and no nighttime cuddling required any more.

Day 7


Self explanatory. Superman occupies place of non-importance with discarded clothes of the day and partial closet invisibility.

Another $20 lost in the abyss of playroom chaos.

Super special Superman no more.

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Another express post today. The parents leave in 2 days so there’s been a flurry of last-minute shopping, sightseeing and catching up, leaving no time for much else. With summer holidays fast approaching (last week of school, Egad!), there is packing to do (vamonos (or something like it), Spain!), school events to attend, plans to be made for keeping kids that may get bored of the relaxation busy. All this makes a girl like me exhausted. I’d rather float in a pool, y’know.

Meanwhile, my friends are having babies. Yes, truly. Most people wouldn’t find this shocking, of course, but I’m so done that I do. Babies = baby showers = cookies made by me. So I’ve been doing some of that.

I made these recently for the shower of a dear friend who’s brave enough to have a fourth after 3 boys (granted, she makes adorable babies!). The host gave these cookies out as favors — I was floored. I wrote all about these here.

When my kids were babies, days seemed so long that eons passed before the hubster got home from work each day. Now? Not so much. Most days I’m so behind on chores that he’s greeted with, “What, you’re home already?!”

And I don’t mind this busy-ness one bit.

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Spring onslaught.

The title of this post may have you believe that I don’t like spring all that much and that I’d rather live through a drab, grey winter all over again. Not so. After a delayed and particularly gloomy winter I just don’t want to jinx it. Spring has sprung in these parts, definitely, but I don’t want to talk about it and have the kids grumble about wearing their thick jackets again.

My mom’s visit has done more than provide me with free babysitting. She’s made me slow down and appreciate the things around me that I’d otherwise have been too jaded to notice. It’s not like I haven’t tried before. Whenever I’d point out a particularly pretty natural spectacle (like, say, the arrival of red cardinals) to my 7yo, he’d mumble a disinterested “So?!” I must have been discouraged enough to stop pointing it to him and eventually failing to notice anything myself. Since she’s been here we’ve been keeping track of which tree has new leaves blooming on which day and which blossoms are changing colours as days go by.

Sound impossibly yawn inducing? It isn’t! That’s what I’m trying to say! Here’s a few pictures from our walk around the neighbourhood this morning. And by neighbourhood, I truly mean it — a radius of approximately half a mile. Check it out.

Only missing a true white, perhaps.

I feel like I need to invent new names for some of the colours we saw in these tulips, especially for the purple-yellow shindig up there. Mammal blood tinged with marrow, maybe? 🙂

Notice the white bark start to be invaded by the brown. I’ve walked by this eerie, bare skeleton of a tree all winter marveling at the, well, starkness of it. And here it is now starting to gradually pull up its pants as if suddenly realizing that you’d better dress if you want to look presentable upon waking up.

Laden with pine cones

Notice the grades of pink — from blush to rage.

Whiter than teeth on tooth-whitening product overdose.

An owl house? A bird nest?

Spectacular, innit folks?

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My mom is here visiting and that’s one of the reasons why this blog has been slow. I feel bad not writing as often as I’d resolved to but, you know. Or maybe you don’t know, but I’ll pretend you do to alleviate my own guilt.

We’ve been chatting, gossiping about relatives we haven’t talked about in years, reminiscing about the years we spent growing up, connecting as mothers and adults, cooking together. Random people in the grocery store stop to remind you to enjoy this time with your maniac children wreaking havoc in the aisles because they won’t remain little forever, but no one tells you to spend time with your mother. My neighbor just lost her mom she was close to; I’m resolved to make this visit with mine count.

Because, the kids will only grow up but moms will grow old.

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Advertisement for nostalgia.

We were on a vacation recently that involved a fair bit of driving. The kids played video games in the backseat sometimes. I coaxed them to look out the window, but most attempts failed because according to them how much can one look at trees and cars and pavement and still be fascinated every time. Today, I agree, but when I was their age a longish drive itself was such a novelty that one didn’t need artificial means to entertain oneself. Also, driving on crowded Indian roads may have had something to do with it too, where looking out the window is many people’s full-time activity.

Anyhow, so I mentioned to V one time how when I was little we didn’t have much TV let alone customizable personal gadgets. “What, no TV, really?” he said, then adjusted his expectations and replied, “well, you wouldn’t have missed it then since you didn’t know such a thing existed!”. Good point, well made. We rode quietly for a while after that and my thoughts turned to the lame excuse we excitedly called television back in the 80s. And, still, however lame-o it may have been, the ad jingles and one-room-videocamed soaps are what my memories are made of.

In the very beginning, circa 1980 maybe, our little black & white TV broadcasted a single channel for 3 hours each day. The channel, Doordarshan, began its regular programming each evening with a half-hour national news, followed by Krishi Darshan, an in-depth agrarian show that no one but farmers watched. Probably.

On the weekends something special was promised to Doordarshan‘s viewers — a  movie screening! I remember a distinct shuffle in our house bustling with a large, extended family around 4pm in preparation for it. The movie would start at 6pm (I think), so all the dinner prep had to be finished before then, the kids had to be fed an evening snack to settle them down until dinner, a large pot of tea would be boiling away on the stove in anticipation of the start time when it would be distributed to everyone huddling in front of the 20″ TV in the living room. The best seats would already be called for, but there was always space on the floor directly in front of the picture for us kids.

At last the movie would begin, watched eagerly by tea-sipping people in living rooms across the city. Community parks would suddenly empty out, chatting neighbours would scurry away inside, wailing babies would be passed around in vain attempts to shush them since no one, including its mother, would be willing to miss the show. Such was the power of that little black box, inspite of frequent telecasting failures indicated by “sorry for the interruption” messages, and the biggest letdown of them all — merely half the movie would elapse before the picture would fade to black with the message “Feature film ka shesh bhaag kal” or The rest of the movie will be telecast tomorrow.


A typical Bollywood flick, approximately 3 hours run time, would be telecast over 2 days, Saturday and Sunday. The only outlet for that outrage was a collective groan emanating from the whole neighbourhood. Showtime over. Back to the weekend grind.

Can you imagine cutting off your kid’s program midway through them watching it and not hear about it the rest of the livelong day? Hmm, neither can I.